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Special topics in media, culture and creative cities – Visual Criminology (Jointly taught with SOCI8008)


Unavailable this year

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  • This course will focus on the importance of the visual dimension in traditional themes of criminology inquiry. Four strands will provide the framework for this course: the role of the image within crime, its’ control, the agency and role of visual artists who capture these images and finally the potential of the visual dimension for research of crime.

    Crime Imagery

    Different concepts related to crime imagery will be taught and discussed, including the representation of perpetrators and victims, the image as the focus of criminalisation (ie – Danish cartoon of Muhammad), how justice is idealised through imagery such as comics and films (Batman and Judge Dredd etc).

    Control Imagery

    Images are increasingly being used in crime control and criminal justice process. From crime prevention, criminal investigation and policing through to criminal trials, punishment and imprisonment, images have their practical uses and contentions. This includes the role of CCTV, the use of phones and consumer devices to record and stream live incidents and the impact this has on accountability for the criminal justice agencies. There has also been an increase in popularity of shows such as Crimewatch, Police Report, COPS, Traffic Cops, Border Control etc. and these will be explored in terms of representation, appeal and control.

    Agency and role on the frontline

    Another aspect of the overlap between imagery and crime are the questions about the agency and role of camera operators and other visual artists who are at the front end of the process in dissemination of motion or still imagery. These include war photographers, news photographers, documentary film-makers and more. We ask deeper questions such as is it the camera operator’s responsibility to capture and convey truth or continue victimisation? The ability to distort and amplify a narrative through technical handling of visual tools (angles, light, aesthetics) are issues that will be critically discussed.

    Visual Research

    The potential to use visual methods to investigate the variables that are contributing to social issues is gaining traction within criminology. Students will learn about how visual methods are employed to reveal subtleties, rich contextual detail and how participants perceive their social world in fields such as ethnography where the notebook and pen or audio recording device have been traditionally employed. Drawing upon the visual anthropology, an appraisal of the arguments for and against visual methods will also be undertaken.

    1. An ability to understand main criminological and sociological concepts and debates and associated key works.

    2. Understand the key concepts and debates surrounding surrounding the use of visual methods in criminology and sociology, including how the different methodological approaches have emerged; what research questions they are able to answer; and the strengths and weaknesses of each approach.

    3. An ability to develop a reasoned argument and to present ideas in a clear and concise manner in oral presentation and in written work.

  • Tasks




  • Becker, Howard (1995): “Visual Sociology, Documentary Photography and Photojournalism: It’s (almost) all a Matter of Context”, in Visual Sociology, 10, 1-2, 5-14.

    Bourgois, Phillipe and Jeff Schonberg (2009): Righteous dopefiend. California: University of California Press.

    Brown, M. and Carrabine, E (2017) Routledge International Handbook of Visual Criminology. Routeledge

    Carrabine, Eamonn (2012): “Just Images: Aesthetics, Ethics and Visual Criminology”, in British Journal of Criminology, 52 (3):463-489.

    Carrabine, Eamonn (2015): “Visual Criminology: History, Theory and Method”, in Copes, Heith and Mitch Miller (eds.) The Routledge Handbook of Qualitative Criminology, Oxon: Routledge.pp.103-121.

    Ferrell, J., Hayward, K. and Young, J. (2008), Cultural Criminology: An Invitation. London: Sage.

    Young, Alison (2005): Judging the Image, Oxon: Routledge.

    Young, A. (2010), The Scene of Violence: Cinema, Crime, Affect. London: Routledge.

  • Apel, D. (2005), ‘Torture Culture: Lynching Photographs and the Images of Abu Ghraib’, Art Journal, Summer: 88–100.

    Azoulay, Ariella (2008): The Civil Contract of Photography, New York: Zone.

    Becker, Howard (1974): “Photography and Sociology”, in Studies in the Anthropology of Visual Communication, 1, 3-26.

    Becker, H. (1981) Exploring Society Photographically, Mary and Leigh Block Gallery, Evanston: Northeastern University.

    Becker, Karin (1990/2003) “Photojournalism and the Tabloid Press”, in Wells, Liz (ed.), The Photography Reader, Oxon: Routledge.pp.291-308.

    Biber, Katherine (2007): Captive Images, Oxon: Routledge-Cavendish.

    Blinder, C. (2009) ‘Not so Innocent: Vision and Culpability in Weegee’s Photographs of Children’, in Kadar, M., J. Perreault and L. Warley (eds.) Photographs, Histories and Meanings, New York: Palgrave, pp.9-23.

    Bourdieu, Pierre (1965/1990): Photography: A Middlebrow Art, Cambridge: Polity.

    Carney, Phil (2010): “Crime, Punishment and the Force of Photographic Spectacle”, in Hayward, Keith and Mike Presdee (eds.) Framing Crime: Cultural Criminology and the Image, Oxon: Routledge.pp.17-35.

    Carrabine, Eamonn (2011) ‘Images of Torture: Culture, Politics and Power’, Crime, Media, Culture, 7: 5–30.

    Carrabine, Eamonn (2014): “Seeing Things: Violence, Voyeurism and the Camera”, in Theoretical Criminology, 18(2):134-158.

    Clarke, Graham (1997): The Photograph, Oxford: University of Oxford.

    Didi-Huberman, Georges (2008): Images in Spite of All: Four Photographs from Auschwitz, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

    Edwards I. Banksy’s Graffiti: A Not-So-Simple Case of Criminal Damage? The Journal of Criminal Law. 2009;73(4):345-361. doi:10.1350/jcla.2009.73.4.583

    Ferrell, J. and Van de Voorde, C. (2010), ‘The Decisive Moment: Documentary Photography and Cultural Criminology’, in K. Hayward and M. Presdee, eds, Framing Crime:  Cultural Criminology and the Image. London: Routledge.

    Harper, Douglas (2012): Visual Sociology, Oxon: Routledge.

    Hayward, Keith (2010): “Opening the Lens: Cultural Criminology and the Image”, in Hayward, Keith and Mike Presdee (eds.) Framing Crime: Cultural Criminology and the Image, Oxon: Routledge.pp1-16.

    Jackson, Bruce (1977): Killing Time, Cornell University Press.

    Jackson, Bruce (2009): Pictures from a Drawer: Prison and the Art of Portraiture. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

    Jackson, Bruce and Diane Christian (2012): In This Timeless Time: Living and Dying on Death Row in America, The University of North Carolina Press.

    Jay, Martin (1993): Downcast Eyes: The Denigration of Vision in Twentieth-century French Thought. Berkeley, CA: California University Press.

    Jervis, John (1998) Exploring the Modern, Oxford: Blackwell.

    Lowe, Paul (2014): ‘The Forensic Turn: Bearing Witness and the “Thingness” of the Photograph’, in Kennedy, Liam and Caitlin Patrick (eds.): The Violence of the Image: Photography and International Conflict, London: IB Tauris.

    Lübecker, Nikolaj (2013): ‘The Politics of Images’, Paragraph, 36(3):392-407.

    Marien, Mary (2010): Photography: A Cultural History, London: Laurence King.

    Mills, C Wright (1959): The Sociological Imagination, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Richard and Robert Watson (eds.) Using Visual Evidence, Berkshire: Open University Press.pp.55-77.

    Pink, Sarah (2013): Doing Visual Ethnography, London: Sage. Third edition.

    Reinhardt, Mark (2007): “Picturing Violence: Aesthetics and the Anxiety of Critique”, in

    Reinhardt, Mark., Holly Edwards and Erinna Duganne (eds) Beautiful Suffering: Photography and the Traffic in Pain, Williamstown, MA: Williams College Museum of Art.pp.13-36.

    Resnick, Judith and Dennis Curtis (2011): Representing Justice, New Haven: Yale University Press.

    Rose, Gillian (2012) Visual Methodologies, London: Sage. Third edition

    Sekula, Alan (1989): “The Body and the Archive”, in Richard Bolton (ed.) The Contest of Meaning, Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press.pp.343-389.

    Simon, Taryn, Peter Neufeld and Barry Scheck (2003): The Innocents, New York: Umbrage. Smith, Lindsay (1998): The Politics of Focus: Women, Children and Nineteenth-century Photography, Manchester: Manchester University Press.

    Snyder, Joel (1984): ‘Documentary without Ontology’, in Studies in Visual Communication, 10:78-95.
    Solomon-Godeau, Abigail (1991): Photography at the Dock, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

    Sontag, Susan (2003): Regarding the Pain of Others, London: Penguin.

    Stallybrass, Julian (ed.) (2013): Documentary, London: Whitechapel Gallery.

    Stasz, Clarice (1979): “The Early History of Visual Sociology” in Wagner, Jon (ed.) Images of Information: Still Photography in the Social Sciences, London: Sage.pp.119-136. Stott, William (1973): Documentary Expression and Thirties America, Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

    Straw, Will (2015): ‘After the Event: The Challenges of Crime Photography’, in Hill, Jason and Vanessa Schwartz (eds.) Getting the Picture: The Visual Culture of the News, London: Bloomsbury.pp.139-144.

    Tagg, John (1988): The Burden of Representation: Essays on Photographies and Histories. Basingstoke: Macmillan.

    Valier, C. and Lippens, R. (2004), ‘Moving Images, Ethics and Justice’, Punishment and Society, 6: 319–33.

    Van Gelder, Hilde and Helen Westgeest (2011): Photography Theory in Historical Perspec- tive, Oxford: Blackwell.

    Walklate, S. and M. Jacobsen (2016) ‘Introducing “Liquid Criminology”’, in Walklate, S. and M. Jacobsen (eds.) Liquid Criminology, Ashgate.

    Wesley G. Jennings, Bryanna Hahn Fox, David P. Farrington, Inked into Crime? An Examination of the Causal Relationship between Tattoos and Life-Course Offending among Males from the Cambridge Study in Delinquent Development, Journal of Criminal Justice, Volume 42, Issue 1, 2014, Pages 77-84,

    Young, A. (2007), ‘Images in the Aftermath of Trauma: Responding to September 11th’, Crime,  Media, Culture, 3: 30–48.

Course co-ordinator and teachers
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